[EDITORIALS]Expand confirmation hearingsConstruction and Transportation Minister Kang Dong-suk has resigned after all. Besides Mr. Kang, top government officials such as Deputy Prime Minister of Economy Lee Hun-jai, Deputy Prime Minister of Education Lee Ki-jun and National Human Rights Commission Chairman Choi Young-do have resigned this year.
They all quit office amid real-estate speculation and corruption allegations pointing to their family members. It hasn’t been determined whether the allegations are true, and so these people might have been unjustly forced from their positions. But if it is true that they used or provided insider information, engaged in illegitimate real estate dealings and increased wealth, they were justly disqualified.
To prevent similar cases from taking place in the future, candidates for government positions and their family members should go through a thorough verification process. New legislation that would allow such a process may be necessary. The privacy of the candidates and their family members, of course, should not be infringed upon and a background check would require their permission.
The Blue House, which recognized the need to introduce a new process, has not presented detailed measures for this purpose. It has been more than two months since Jeong Chan-yong, the Blue House senior secretary for personnel affairs, resigned to take responsibilities for botched personnel appointments. Why is the Blue House hesitant to take action, saying, “The issue will be taken care of within this year”?
If it cannot stage a thorough background check for whatever reasons, then it may consider a measure that would allow the National Assembly to hold confirmation hearings for government posts above the ministerial level.
The Grand National Party is also considering such an option, and President Roh Moo-hyun once said, “I will expand the scope of confirmation hearings at the Assembly so that candidates for ministerial posts are included.”
We ask the governing Uri Party to actively consider this option as well. If problematic candidates are revealed publicly through Assembly hearings, then it would be much easier for Korean society to reach a consensus on the level of morality and integrity required of government officials. Doing so is better than to see corruption scandals arise after candidates are appointed.